To help us provide you with free impartial advice, we may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site. Learn more

JBL Club 950NC review: Capable all-rounders that fall short of excellence

Our Rating :
£104.69 from
Price when reviewed : £220
inc VAT

The JBL Club 950NC are commendable headphones that deliver in all the key areas but don’t excel in any, either


  • Enjoyable sound profile
  • Decent noise cancellation
  • Solid build quality


  • Not as comfortable as some of their rivals
  • Bass boost makes tracks sound muddy

The JBL Club 950NC are the mid-range entry in JBL’s Club range of wireless headphones, which also includes the on-ear Club 700BT and premium over-ear Club One. They offer a wide range of features, including active noise cancellation, Ambient Aware and TalkThru modes and EQ customisation, which, for the most part, function very well. Sound quality is admirable, too, making the JBL Club 950NC a very capable all-round pair of headphones.

However, they don’t break any new ground and can’t quite match the levels of performance or comfort demonstrated by the industry’s leading over-ear, noise-cancelling offerings.

JBL Club 950NC review: What’s in the box?

For £220, you get a pair of wireless over-ear headphones that use 40mm dynamic drivers and operate over Bluetooth 5, a sturdy carrying case, USB-A to USB-C charging cable and a 1.2m-long 3.5mm to 2.5mm analogue cable. It’s pretty standard fare but the build quality of the headphones is impressive. Durable metal hinges attach the earcups to the headband making for an aesthetic that’s sleek if a little generic.

JBL Club 950NC review: What are the controls like?

Physical buttons on the right earcup allow you to control volume and track skipping and initiate Bass Boost, while the power, Bluetooth pairing and Smart Ambient button are housed on the left earcup. It takes a little getting used to the positioning of the buttons but they’re responsive and easily accessed. The outside surface of the left earcup can be pressed in to activate the voice assistant of your choice, which provides a convenient way of hailing either Alexa or Google Assistant.

JBL Club 950NC review: How’s the battery life?

Battery life when listening to the JBL Club 950NC over Bluetooth is stated at 55 hours, although that drops to 22 hours when you have ANC switched. That’s ample but does fall short of the 30 hours provided by Sony’s WH-1000XM3, which offer the best noise-cancelling around. Fifteen minutes on charge will get you two hours of playback and the headphones can be fully charged from empty in a couple of hours.

READ NEXT: The best Bluetooth headphones for every budget

JBL Club 950NC review: Are they comfortable?

At 375g, the JBL Club 950NC are relatively heavy, although I didn’t find them a burden to wear. The memory foam earcups form a decent fit over your ears and are reasonably soft but don’t create the luxurious fit you get with Bose’s Quiet Comfort 35 II – the most comfortable over-ears I’ve ever worn.

I’d have liked a bit more padding on both the earcups and the headband but that’s not to say the Club 950NC are uncomfortable. I was able to happily wear them for the best part of a day without any issues.

JBL Club 950NC review: What’s the audio like?

The JBL Club 950NC’s sound profile delivers a pleasing combination of detail and punchy bass. The vocals on “Naive” by The Kooks were articulated very clearly, as were the guitar and drums. Likewise, The Arctic Monkeys’ “When The Sun Goes Down” was presented with energy and dynamism and benefitted from the Club 950NC’s open soundstage.

The squelchy bass on DJ Zinc’s “India Jungle” sounded as deliciously bouncy as it did in London clubs during the early 2000s and the track should have been perfect for the Club 950NC’s Bass Boost mode. Conversely, it demonstrated the weakness of the feature. With Bass Boost engaged, the lower registers get a noticeable lift but only at the expense of the overall audio balance. I found songs that previously showed clarity became far muddier and, despite my love of bass, I preferred using the Club 950NC with the mode switched off.

Should you want to play around with the EQ, you can do so via the JBL Headphones app. There are five “DJ Signature” presets to choose from – including one from Armin Van Buuren –but I didn’t really feel any of them improved the listening experience. It’s also possible to create your own EQ or use presets for piano, vocal and jazz tracks. The app is simple to navigate and offers a decent amount of audio customisation in addition to voice assistant selection and an auto-off feature.

JBL Club 950NC review: How good is the noise cancellation?

Active noise cancellation (ANC) is toggled on and off by holding down the Smart Ambient button on the outside of the left earcup for two seconds. There’s no voice prompt telling you whether it’s active or not but I knew when it was engaged due to a crackling likely caused by the external microphones. This is inaudible when music is playing but when music is paused it can be rather irritating. There’s also an LED on the earcup that shows whether ANC is on or not, although this isn’t particularly useful given you can’t see it when the headphones are on your head.

The ANC works very well. It isn’t as effective as Sony or Bose’s noise-cancelling tech but it successfully cuts out a decent chunk of external sound. Sitting in my home office I was unable to hear the approaching footsteps of my partner or the desperate appeals of the cat for its umpteenth meal of the day, and the whirring of the washing machine was nigh-on eliminated. It couldn’t drown out the sound of the kettle boiling but higher frequency sounds typically provide more of a challenge for noise-cancelling cans.

On top of ANC, you have two Smart Ambient modes that you can switch between via the JBL Headphones app. Ambient Aware amplifies external noise to allow you to better take in your surroundings, while TalkThru drops your audio to near-inaudible levels to allow you to hold a conversation without taking off the headphones. I found the crackling of the ANC mics too much to bear in the TalkThru mode but Ambient Aware works extremely well.

Should I buy the JBL Club 950NC?

The JBL Club 950NC are a very competent pair of headphones but face stiff competition in a crowded market.

The price is the biggest issue, however, and at £220 they’re left stranded in mid-range no man’s land. If you’re willing to fork out a bit more, you’ll get better ANC from the Sony’s WH-1000XM3, greater comfort from the Bose QuietComfort 35 II or improved sound quality from the Bowers & Wilkins PX. And for £60 less, you could pick up the excellent value for money Philips PH805 which offer a lot of the same features (minus a companion app).

Ultimately, the JBL Club 950NC tick most of the right boxes but fail to excel and aren’t quite good enough to secure a place in the pantheon of best over-ear noise-cancelling headphones.

Read more